The Reunion of the Soul & the Body is the last illustration in Cromek’s edition of The Grave. Although no specific passage is inscribed on the engraving, Blake takes his cue from the following lines:
When the dread trumpet sounds, the slumb’ring dust,
Not unattentive to the call, shall wake;
And every joint possess it’s proper place,
With a new elegance of form, unknown
To it’s first state. Nor shall the conscious soul
Mistake it’s partner; but, amidst the crowd
Singling it’s other half, into it’s arms
Shall rush… (p.32)
This watercolor is the counterpart to The Soul Hovering Over the Body (lot 7). But while Blake chose the quietest moment from Blair’s poem to illustrate that subject, here he illustrates the most dramatic. The soul rushes down, her hair and drapery caught by the wind, and wraps her arms around the newly resurrected body. He is half nude, with just some drapery, perhaps his shroud, clinging to his legs. He has only just risen from his grave and his exquisitely fashioned outstretched foot still touches its side. The surrounding flames are not the flames of hell, but the purifying flames of the last days.
Here the reunion between the body and the soul goes beyond the spiritual and has a sexual element completely absent from the poem. This is not surprising, since Blake was not shy about describing or picturing the joys of sexuality. As in The Meeting of a Family in Heaven (lot 2), in which Blake elaborated on the sexual elements only implied by Blair, Blake uses the poem as a jumping off point from which he creates his own interpretation of life and death and the relation of the physical to the spiritual nature of mankind.
Muted yellows and reds, the latter perhaps suggesting the passionate nature of the reunion, figure prominently in Blake's palette for this design. The composition is one of the most elegant in the series, as is Blake’s brush work. The flames and background are drawn in broad, loose strokes, while the delicate shading of the flesh is stippled in tiny, intense strokes of blue.
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